Only a few weeks to flatten the curve and protect the NHS, we were told. Who would have believed that, over a year later, we are still in a national lockdown, the vaccine programme is being hailed as an incredible success but the national debate has now shifted to the subject of a national identity card scheme.
The Covid Status Certificates – or vaccine passports – that are being proposed sit ill at ease with me when I think of the needs of the country and of my constituents. What is the problem that they are here to solve? Is it part of a scheme to improve healthcare or enhance the national vaccine programme? Is it a key part of the Test, Trace and Isolate scheme that is already running and the Government says is highly effective? Will it keep children in school and open up the economy? Will it even enhance our civil liberties?
The answer to all of these questions is no so what is the purpose of spending billions of pounds and investing a vast amount of Civil Service time to develop and impose a scheme for which there is no apparent need.
The view of the Government is that a new Covid-19 variant may appear, it will defeat all of the current vaccines and Britain will be plunged into a new pandemic and the hospitals will be overwhelmed with a massive loss of life.
I simply disagree with the Government and believe that they risk undermining the successes that they and the whole of our society have achieved.
There are around 20,000 variants of Covid-19 around the world and we have thousands in the UK but we have to live in fear of the 20,001st version – the government is suggesting that the amazing success of the vaccine scientists and the range of inoculations that are currently available can so easily be defeated at the same time.
We have heard scare stories of the Kent strain stalking the land or that the South African and Brazilian versions getting here and overwhelming the system. The latest scientific opinion is that all of our vaccines are highly effective against all variants. Even if the virus can evade one or two vaccines, it will not be able to dodge them all and we can quickly reformulate existing versions to defeat the emergent mutant.
Why is the Government seeking to resurrect Tony Blair’s ID Card idea under the guise of the Coronavirus Status Certificate and can any argument really justify doing so?
It is fine for a foreign country to demand a vaccine certificate at the airport but why should we want to have them for going about our daily lives.
The Government has protected the country but we should not create a system where officials, the police or pub bouncers can demand to see our papers.